Ericsson’s Chief Executive Officer Borje Ekholm pressured a Swedish minister to reverse a ban on including Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. in the country’s 5G roll-out, Dagens Nyheter reported.
Ekholm lobbied Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg in a series of phone messages to review an order by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) that operators remove the Chinese companies from existing infrastructure used for 5G frequencies by January 2025, the Swedish newspaper reported.
An Ericsson spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that Ekholm was in contact with the minister.
Hallberg told DN that she had not had any contact with PTS and would never step in as minister and influence the decisions of individual authorities. She added that she didn’t meet with Ekholm at any point.
The exchange follows comments by Jacob Wallenberg, deputy chair of Ericsson’s board of directors, who said that “stopping Huawei is definitely not good,” according to an interview in the same newspaper on Dec. 25.
The Swedish telecom giant derives about 10% of its sales from China and is Huawei’s biggest rival in the market for cellular radio equipment. China warned that Swedish companies may face “negative impacts” from the ban if the decision wasn’t revoked. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the government stood by the authority’s assessment.
The ban was based on an assessment by Sweden’s police and military agencies, which concluded that Chinese state influence over the private sector “brings with it strong incentives for privately owned companies to act in accordance with state goals and the communist party’s national strategies.”
By Stephen Treloar and Charles Daly
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